Politics Mike Pompeo hunts for Senate Democratic votes for floor confirmation strategy

13:31  17 april  2018
13:31  17 april  2018 Source:   cnn.com

Pompeo may fall short of majority support on Senate panel

  Pompeo may fall short of majority support on Senate panel Two key Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are signaling they won't back CIA Director Mike Pompeo for secretary of state, a sign that his nomination as the top US diplomat is likely to face a rebuke by falling short of a majority on the panel. In interviews with CNN, Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Jeanne Shaheen -- who sit on the panel and backed Pompeo's nomination to be CIA director -- say they are harboring concerns with the nominee, a clear signal they may vote against him. In addition, Republican Rand Paul also told CNN that the hearing "really solidified" his opposition to Pompeo.

The Senate has just voted to confirm Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA Director. This represents the third intelligence and security nomination confirmed – General Kelly (DHS) and General Mattis (DoD) receiving earlier confirmations .

(Bloomberg) -- Mike Pompeo , the CIA director and secretary of state nominee, will be pressed to define the Trump administration’s foreign policy strategy during one of the most turbulent periods of international relations in the president’s tenure. At his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday

US Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his conformation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images) © JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images US Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his conformation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next secretary of state may not get a favorable committee vote, but that won't stop his nomination, according to GOP lawmakers and aides.

The plan is for Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, to have his nomination moved to the Senate floor regardless of the looming committee vote. It's something that will underscore a dynamic has become clear: that all eyes will a handful of moderate Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns.

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  As Pompeo Hits Opposition, Senate GOP Leaders May Bypass Panel A Senate panel appears increasingly likely to vote against the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state next week, but Republican leaders say they still plan to hold a full Senate confirmation vote. “I think it’s important he get a vote on the floor of the Senate and I believe he’ll be confirmed,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of the GOP leadership team and of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is considering Pompeo’s nomination.

Mike Pompeo , whom President Trump chose for his next secretary of state, is expected to tell the Senate during his confirmation hearing Thursday that years of soft policy toward Russian aggression are “now over.”

Mike Pompeo , whom President Trump chose for his next secretary of state, is expected to tell the Senate during his confirmation hearing Thursday that years of soft policy toward Russian aggression are “now over.”

"I think it's important that he gets a vote on the floor of the Senate and I believe that he will be confirmed," Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican and member of leadership, told reporters.

Shifting the focus from the committee vote total to the where the floor vote stands has, to some degree, been a dynamic GOP leaders -- and, based on the strategic roster of closed-door meetings Pompeo has held with senators so far -- the nominee himself have been keenly aware of for weeks.

Doing Pompeo's Senate confirmation math

As it stands, several committee Democrats still haven't announced where they will end up -- Sen. Ben Cardin, a senior Democrat on the panel, said Monday night he was "still evaluating." But the expectation among Republicans is that given the committee's 11-10 Republican makeup, with GOP Sen. Rand Paul already in the "no" column, that he will not receive the requisite number of votes for a favorable recommendation to the Senate floor.

Trump downplays concerns over Pompeo confirmation: He'll be a great secretary of State

  Trump downplays concerns over Pompeo confirmation: He'll be a great secretary of State President Trump on Wednesday expressed optimism that Mike Pompeo, his pick for secretary of State, will make it through the confirmation process. "I think that Mike will be in good shape. A lot of people are predicting other things, but I have a feeling it's going to work out really well," Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago.As Pompeo faces a difficult confirmation vote, Trump praised his credentials, arguing that he'll go down "as truly a great secretary of State.""And by the way, he just left North Korea.

Democratic activists around the country have become energized by the nomination of Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state, kicking off a bout of organizing around foreign policy that has little precedent Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., voted to confirm Pompeo last year.

The Senate vote means Rep. Mike Pompeo , R-Kan., will Instead, Obamacare was discussed on the Senate floor , and senators in the end agreed to end debate early and start the vote at around 7 p.m., instead of 9 p.m. When the debate finally took place, Pompeo enjoyed some Democratic support.

"The committee can report him out unfavorably and you can still take him up on the floor, it's just a question of whether or not we have the committee sign off and it sounds like it's possible we wouldn't," said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the third-ranked Republican in the chamber.

That would provide Pompeo with a somewhat ignominious distinction. According to the Senate historian's office, there are no instances of a secretary of state nominee receiving an unfavorable committee vote since 1925. Prior to the mid to late 1920s, nearly all executive Senate committee business was done in closed session, so there was no public record for these actions, the office added. According to a Congressional Research Service report, from 1987-2016, no nominee was confirmed after being reported unfavorably by a committee.

Despite that, Republicans and Trump administration officials, according to aides, have targeted a list of Democrats seen as in play due to both their personal politics -- and the politics of their re-election races. With a political map that includes 10 Democrats running for re-election in states Trump won in 2016, some by sizable margins, and GOP lawmakers and aides say, at least at this point, they are confident in Pompeo's pathway to confirmation.

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  Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for Secretary of State Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said Thursday that she will support President Trump's nomination of CIA director Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, virtually guaranteeing he will win confirmation. Heitkamp, who faces a difficult reelection race this fall in a state Trump won by double-digits, becomes the first Senate Democrat to announce her support for Pompeo.

Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he intends to oppose President Donald Trump's nominations of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and Gina Haspel as the next CIA director, complicating their confirmation process in the Senate where Republicans have a very slim majority.

Washington (CNN) Mike Pompeo 's supporters describe a brilliant man, widely read on international affairs who has the ear and confidence of President Donald Trump. I did not get a total comfort level there," said Cardin, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that will vote on Pompeo 's

With Paul a "no" vote and Sen. John McCain back in Arizona battling cancer, Republicans would need a single Democrat to vote in favor of Pompeo should each of the 49 Republicans vote for the nomination. Should they lose more Republicans, more Democrats would be needed to get the nomination across the finish line.

"There's some combination of up to a handful of them that will have a hard time explaining why they weren't for somebody like Mike Pompeo for that job," said Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican.

Those Democratic targets include lawmakers like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri also haven't publicly declared their intentions to this point.

Attempting to highlight the political risk in voting against Pompeo's nomination in tough midterm races given the international turmoil and high stakes, one GOP aide put it plainly: "A 'no' vote is a negative campaign ad a day for every one of them for the next six months."

Searching for at least one Democratic vote

At the moment, no Democrat has committed to a "yes" vote. But Manchin repeated several times to reporters on Monday that he was "very open minded." The senator will meet with Pompeo on Tuesday, according to a source. Sen. Doug Jones, the recently sworn-in Alabama Democrat, said he's "open" to Pompeo, but wants to meet with him first. McCaskill said she also wants to meet with Pompeo before finalizing her decision.

Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo

  Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Democrats are mulling an audacious plan to bottle up President Trump's nominee to head the State Department in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - even though Mike Pompeo likely has enough votes to win confirmation on the Senate floor. The plan under consideration would involve Democrats on the panel refusing to vote to discharge Pompeo from the committee with even an unfavorable recommendation.This would for ce Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to offer a motion to bring Pompeo's nomination to the Senate floor. Democratic senators and aides say that motion would be subject to a filibuster, allowing Democrats to block Pompeo.

Mike Pompeo faces his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday to become secretary of State as the Trump administration grapples with a mounting series of international crises and challenges, including probable U.S. air raids in Syria, a likely withdrawal from

Senate Dems: Pompeo faces ‘rigorous confirmation process’ for secretary of state. President Trump’s decision to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confronts CIA Director Mike Pompeo with a “rigorous confirmation process,” Senate Democrats warned.

For its part, Senate Democratic leadership hasn't said how they will approach the vote at the caucus up to this point -- whether to push their members to vote against or members vote however they see fit, according to a senior Democratic aide.

The clock is ticking, however. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said Monday he planned to hold the committee vote on Pompeo's nomination next week, with a floor vote possible the week after that. Corker declined to weigh in on his plans should Pompeo fall short in his committee.

"Let's see what happens in the committee and then we'll figure out where to go from there," Corker said, adding that he hoped some of the panel's Democrats would eventually vote yes. But he also acknowledged that for many Democrats, the nomination was being viewed more broadly than just about Pompeo.

"I do understand how on the Democratic side many view this as a proxy" for the Trump administration's foreign policy in general, Corker told reporters.

Plenty of Democrats have raised specific concerns about Pompeo's qualifications -- from his position on the Iran nuclear deal and his independence from Trump to past statements indicating a hawkishness they say they are uncomfortable with in the position as the nation's top diplomat.

"Now more than ever, we need a Secretary of State who will stand strong for vigorous US diplomacy," Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, who supported Pompeo's nomination to be CIA director, said in a statement. "I believe that Mike Pompeo would exacerbate President Trump's weaknesses rather than uphold our diplomatic legacy."

Yet Republicans say it's as much a reflection of the current atmosphere as it is one on the nominee -- a former congressman who graduated first in his class from the US military academy with a degree from Harvard Law School.

"Nothing is as easy as it should be right now," Blunt said. "I don't think that's a reflection on him as much as it's a reflection on the moment."

CNN's Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.

Senate votes 57-42 to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be Trump's second secretary of state .
Outgoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo is expected to clear his last hurdle to become secretary of state when the Senate votes midday Thursday to confirm him.Pompeo's confirmationThis is a breaking news story; please check back for additional updates.

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